Tom Keighley

Member Article

Is the Digital Economy Act a white elephant?

Last week’s statement by The Pirate Bay, recommending the use of VPN services to download and share content is a worrying sign that legislation is lagging behind technology, the Federation Against Software Theft suggest.

They suggest The Digital Economy Act, which has yet to be fully enacted, is in danger of becoming a White Elephant that cannot fully handle the evolving practices of the internet pirate community.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel at the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), stated: “Late last week the UK High Court instructed certain ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay.

“In response, the file-sharing site stated that users should turn to VPN services to evade law-enforcers and maintain anonymity.

“The publicity brought by the ruling has driven an additional 12 million visitors to the site, exacerbating the issue further. The DEA is not designed to crack down on the use of such technology.”

A recent study from Lund University in Sweden reveals that there has been a 40% rise in the number of 15 to 25 year-olds using VPN services since 2009 in order to share content.

In its statement, The Pirate Bay claimed: “As usual there are easy ways to circumvent the block. Use a VPN service to be anonymous and get an uncensored internet access, you should do this anyhow.”

Heathcote Hobbins added: “VPNs are secure tunnels that allow data sharing behind heavy encryption.

“This means that users can swap files without being detected – an ideal route for pirate activity. The battle to help people understand why intellectual property rights are beneficial is far from over.

“The challenge remains, to gain acceptance of value in digital product. IP is most often the method by which the investment to create such product is anchored.

“That is how the return is underpinned for the software developer, whether they be a multinational or a one-man-and-his-dog sole trader.

“The risk with the Digital Economy Act is that, as time moves on, it could be perceived as a White Elephant.

“It was a piece of legislation that was voted through in 2010 and it now looks like it will not be completely enacted until 2015.

“As we can already see – the pirates are fighting back using new technology to by-pass the law.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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